Have you decided it’s time to go from being a renter to a homeowner? Congratulations! If you’ve decided to purchase your first home in Greenville, South Carolina, you’ve made an excellent decision. Known for its thriving downtown scene and a multitude of museums and art galleries, along with gorgeous waterfalls, open spaces, and parks, Greenville is the ideal place for first-time homeowners to start putting down roots and building their dream life.
If you’ve started looking into Greenville real estate, here’s a guide to everything you should know before you buy.
Make sure your finances are in order
Financial preparation is essential in any real estate purchase, and first-time buyers will benefit greatly from researching their loan options and down payment ahead of time. Although you are not required to put 20% down for all types of loans, it’s still a good idea to start saving for your first home as soon as possible. Most loans will require at least some amount of money down, and you will also need to plan for various expenses, such as moving to your new place, furnishing your new home, utilities, and HOA dues if applicable.
You will also need to check your credit score and take action to improve it if you find any discrepancies. To qualify for a conventional loan, you will need a credit score of at least 620. If your score is higher than this, you may be able to qualify for lower interest rates, which will save you significant cash over the life of your loan. If your score is lower than 620, however, you should still be able to qualify for a loan through first-time home buyer programs. To boost your credit score and qualify for lower interest rates, remember to pay off any debts, including credit cards and car loans, and ensure you make all monthly payments on time.
Consider which loan option is best for you
Speaking of your loan, in most cases, a conventional loan is the best option if you are able to make a down payment of at least 10% and if your credit score is at least 620. If your credit score is between 580 and 620, you will likely need an FHA loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration and will be required to make a down payment of at least 3.5%. If your score is under 580, you may still be able to qualify for an FHA loan with a down payment of 10%. Work with a trusted loan officer to review your options and find the right fit.
It’s important to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start looking at homes for sale in Greenville, SC. That way, you can focus on homes that fit within your financial means. To get pre-approved, a mortgage lender will review various documents and information — namely your social security number, proof of income and assets, your credit score, and employment verification. Depending on your situation and the lender you work with, you may also need additional documents.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage not only helps you decide on your budget and narrow down your home search, but it also indicates to sellers that you are a serious buyer with the financial capability to move forward in the purchase. If the home you want to buy has several offers already, the seller will almost certainly choose the buyer who is pre-approved over other buyers. Being pre-approved ahead of time also helps facilitate a streamlined offer and mortgage approval process.
Focus on your must-have features
Once you are pre-approved for a loan and know what your budget is, you can start putting together a list of what you want and need in a new home. Your “wish list should include features and amenities that you’d like but that aren’t deal-breakers, such as a pool, a chef’s kitchen, or a spa bathroom. Your “must-haves,” however, are those features you will not budge on. These characteristics may include the number of bedrooms, the specific neighborhood, or a certain architectural type or layout.
Tips for making an offer
If you work with an experienced real estate agent, they are ready to expertly walk you through the offer process once you find a Greenville, SC, home you are interested in. Your agent will help you craft a strong offer with the contingencies you require. The seller can then accept the offer as-is, reject the offer, or produce a counteroffer. If the seller counters, your agent will guide you through the negotiation process and help you focus on your goals at every point. They will represent you during communications with the other party and advocate for your best interests, helping you achieve the outcome you’ve been hoping for.
Once your offer is accepted, your agent will guide you through the continency phase and on to closing the deal. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to happiness in Greenville real estate with a trusted expert by your side.
Work with an experienced local agent
The best piece of advice for first-time home buyers is to work with an experienced local agent who can guide them through every step of the home-buying process. Not only will the right agent have insightful knowledge about the local housing market, but they can connect you with amazing homes that match your budget and assist you when making an offer. Not only that, but they’re also free for buyers, as they make their commission from the seller. There’s no reason not to work with an agent as you begin your home search!
Are you ready to take the exciting next step to becoming a first-time home buyer in Greenville
real estate? Reach out to leading local agent Kiersten Bell
for the advice you can trust. Kiersten would be happy to educate you on the process and set you up for success.
*Header photo courtesy of Kiersten Bell